Religion Today Summaries - June 29, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 29, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • ADF Defends Christian Couple Arrested While Preaching, Praying in Public

  • Pakistani 'Blasphemy' Prisoner Wins Persecution Prize

  • China Claims 'Full and Broad Freedom of Religious Belief'

  • Anglican Head Suggests Two-Tiered Church System

ADF Defends Christian Couple Arrested While Preaching, Praying in Public

A new trial has been granted in the case of a Missouri couple arrested while preaching and praying on a Kansas City street corner, AgapePress reports. The pro-family Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is defending the couple. Last November, Michael Wheeler was sharing his faith at the Transit Plaza Park area in Kansas City, Missouri, while his wife Joy was praying nearby when a Metro Bus supervisor approached the couple and told them to leave. The Wheelers began to pray and soon were arrested by police. Mr. Wheeler was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct, and his wife with disorderly conduct. The two spent the night in jail. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) intervened in the matter, requesting that the case be dismissed. Although a municipal court denied the motion, the Wheelers were granted a new trial on appeal.

Pakistani ‘Blasphemy’ Prisoner Wins Persecution Prize

Compass Direct reports a Pakistani Christian has won a religious persecution award after spending eight years in prison on contested charges that he damaged a sign containing verses from the Quran. The International Society for Human Rights (IGFM) honored Ranjha Masih, still serving his life sentence, with the newly established Stephen Endowment award in recognition of Masih’s “steadfastness in maintaining his Christian beliefs.” Masih was unable to accept the award in person at the IGFM annual conference in Frankfurt, Hesse state, Germany on May 6. The prizewinner remained behind bars thousands of miles away in Faisalabad Central Jail, seemingly forgotten by Pakistan’s legal system. Three years after filing an appeal before the provincial High Court, the Christian has not been given a hearing.

China Claims ‘Full and Broad Freedom of Religious Belief’

Chinese officials have expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 12 condemning rising persecution of religious believers in China, Compass Direct reports. The resolution came after U.S. President George W. Bush invited three members of China’s house church network to the White House on May 11: author Yu Jie, law professor Wang Yi and legal scholar Li Baiguang. Yu, 33, attends Ark Church, an unregistered Protestant house church that has had to shift location six times to escape harassment. When Yu was asked to visit the White House, secret police in Beijing immediately called his wife, Liu Min, at her office in downtown Beijing. “They bluntly asked me to stop attending Ark Church, assuming that if I stopped going, the others would also scatter,” she said. When she replied that she could not obey the order, the police said they would spread rumors to damage her husband’s reputation. They also advised her to divorce Yu.

Anglican Head Suggests Two-Tiered Church System

According to a story in The Christian Post, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested Tuesday that the divided fellowship of Anglican churches could stay together under a system in which members with nontraditional views on issues such as gay clergy accepted a lesser role in the group. The Archbishop wrote to the Anglican Communion's 38 primates: "Some actions - and sacramental actions in particular - just do have the effect of putting a church outside or even across the central stream of the life they have shared with other churches." Archbishop Williams' proposal could eventually compel the U.S. Episcopal Church and other Anglican provinces to decide whether they should maintain full membership in the Anglican Communion by adhering to the views of a majority of its leaders, or accept a lower-level status.